In the early 1940s, a boom in white migration to Southeast Alaska brought questions of land and resource rights to courts of law, where neither precedence nor evidence was sufficient to settle claims. In 1946, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs assigned a team of researchers-anthropologist Walter Goldschmidt, lawyer Theodore Haas, and Tlingit schoolteacher and interpreter Joseph Kahklen-to go from village to village to interview old and young alike to discover who owned and used the lands and waters and under what rules. Their mimeographed report, "The Possessory Rights of the Natives of Southeastern Alaska," established strong historical evidence to support Native land claims.
Haa Aani, Our Land publishes this monumental study in book form for the first time. A reminiscence by Walter Goldschmidt and introduction by Thomas Thornton explain the genesis, context, and significance of the original report. Previously uncirculated testimony from the original 88 witnesses is included, along with a bibliography and an index of names, clans, and resources. 17 illus.